Excited young Sunderland fans are packing their bags after being surprised with free tickets to a Wembley cup final.
The Black Cats will be the underdogs when they take on Premier League dominators Manchester City on Sunday, but Gus Poyet’s players won’t want for support at the world-famous stadium.
These five Wearside youngsters being treated at Sunderland hospitals will be in the stands after philanthropist Barrie Wells, of Wells Sports Foundation, handed them passes.
They and their parents will be chaperoned by Steve Cram MBE and Olympic bronze medallist Charlie Spedding as cup fever sweeps the North East.
Jack Munneke, 11, from Washington, and Ross Jackson, 15, Rebecca Burnett, 17, Jake Liddle and eight-year-old Ben Bewick, all from Sunderland, will also be transported to Wembley for free, courtesy of Minster Self Drive, Sunderland.
The generous gesture also marks the launch of Barrie Wells’ Box4Kids campaign, which aims to offer seriously ill and disabled youngsters the chance to attend major sporting events.
Steve Cram, himself an avid Sunderland fan, said: “This is such a fantastic opportunity for the children, thanks to Barrie and Box4kids, we’ve been able to make the Cup Final a reality for a special group of youngsters.
“Hopefully it will be a day that will live long in their memory and we’re so grateful to everyone who has made the opportunity possible.”
The youngsters have also been given limited edition cup final scarves and personalised Sunderland shirts by the club.
Barrie Wells said: “I am delighted to be able to create the opportunity to give these Sunderland children such a great chance to support their home team at Wembley.
“We have so many willing partners for this first step in rolling out the Box 4 Kids initiative across the country and we are grateful to Club Wembley, Sunderland Football Club and Steve Cram in particular for their support. Hopefully the result will be positive for Sunderland.”
Ken Bremner, chief executive of City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust said: “We are delighted for five children from our hospital to have been chosen to attend the Capital One Cup Final.
“It was very difficult to select the children, but they have all been chosen by their respective community nurse or the ward that they frequently attend for treatment.
“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I am sure that they will have a fantastic time particularly if the result is hopefully a good one for Sunderland.
“My thanks to the Wells Sport Foundation and Box 4 Kids for giving them a day that they will remember forever.”